Why acapella?

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Reformedfellow

Puritan Board Freshman
Joshua, can you be more specific, because your statement sounds like you are saying that when the Apostle wrote his epistles he was referring his immediate intended readers to "the Psalter". To me he is saying, sing the Psalms, sing Hymns, and other spiritual songs.
There seems to be such a heavy emphasis that this is the ONLY possible way that one can rightly worship God, that I'm thinking we should halt our operation to get New Testaments into North Korea and make sure they get a Psalter as well. (don't take my sarcasm personally my brother :p )
 

JP Wallace

Puritan Board Sophomore
Apostle mentions, at least twice (in Ephesians and Colossians) to use Psalms, Hymns, and spiritual songs. Not Psalms ONLY. This is where the bible is not "silent".
Maybe, maybe not? What would/could Paul have meant by Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs? What does spiritual mean? If he is referring to hymns as being manmade hymns (uninspired) is their documentary evidence to show that such hymns existed? Extensively, locally? We must try to understand authorial intent in relation to any text. We must apply our knowledge in general to understanding a text.

For instance a publican in the UK is someone who owns and runs a bar/pub, we must not read our definition of what a publican is however into the Bible - where in the AV we read,

KJV Matthew 10:3 Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus;

There are many, many questions to ask of these texts before one can say...not psalms only. As Joshua has pointed out, historically the Reformed churches, and the ancient church have in general understood these texts as referring to the Book of Psalms.
 

Reformedfellow

Puritan Board Freshman
What about the command in scripture to sing to the Lord a new song? Are you saying this was written before all the Psalms were put together, and now that all 150 are penned that we don't need to sing to him anything else?
Now, I'm not trying to make a human argument on behalf of God saying that God must be bored hearing the same songs all the time for centuries. Not at all. I look at Revelation 4:8, and wonder (in a human sense) "why does that never get old"'? If that were going on in my house, it would get old pretty quick.
But to me I see a command in scripture, repeatedly, in the Psalms and in Isaiah to sing to Him a new song. I'm still not sold on the Psalms, Hymns, and spiritual songs argument though. You raise a good point though, is there evidence of any ancient songs? I don't know. But we can see, from at least the beginning of the reformation that there was a boom in hymn writing. Any, even the lightest, study of Luther will reveal the huge emphasis that he put on music. Not just hymns, but also music in general.
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
Dear Colin,

I'm not sure to what you're referring as to specificity. Please forgive my denseness. I do, in fact, believe that the Apostle is talking about the Psalter, and I believe such an interpretation comports with all of Scripture. We shouldn't take our modern understanding of the word hymn and anachronistically apply it back to Paul's audience of the time. We have no such command anywhere in Scripture to sing uninspired hymns. You say that you've listened to the sermons that were referenced, but are you sure you listened to all of them, or was it just the ones on instrumental music in the worship of God? I think your reticence/objections are ably answered in the Exclusive Psalmody series to which I pointed you. I believe there are 20 or so sermons. I would encourage you to take your time and listen through those (as you have lawful opportunity). The very first sermon just spends some time surveying most of the instances in Scripture pertaining to music and fleshes out whether said music had anything to do with praise, etc. Then the Pastor just keeps drilling down more specifically and finally gets to answering objections of Psalmody. Even if you remain unmoved, I still think you will find the sermons valuable.
Colin,

This is also at the heart of the argument. I love my brother Joshua, and I understand the "psalms, psalms, psalms" argument (break out your Septuagint) has an historical basis, but I just don't buy it. I've posted at great length about that in many threads on the PB, so I won't go on here.

I would encourage you not to run to a normative principle of worship in order to reject the Exclusive Psalmody argument. The RPW is completely consistent (and must be) with musically accompanied hymnody. All it requires is the rejection of two arguments proferred in addition to the RPW:

1. That musical instruments are elements of worship, essential to temple worship, and that there were no instruments used as circumstances in worship before the temple (which is, in my opinion, impossible to prove, since we don't have descriptions of Abrahamic or Patriarchal worship). As a result all instruments must be rejected. (As an aside, Chris is correct - Girardeu makes the best argument for that, far better than Schwertly's screed)

2. That the governing exegetical principle for interpreting "psalms, hymns and spiritual songs" as "psalms, psalms and psalms" requires us to use the uninspired Superscriptions (the "titles," like "from the choirmaster) of a translation of the OT, the LXX).

I am not saying that our EP brethren can't make a case for that, but far better to argue that point, than to run to the seemingly easier task of saying, "nowhere does the NT forbid instruments or hymns."
 

Reformedfellow

Puritan Board Freshman
To be perfectly honest with you guys, I really do not know what NPW and RPW are or what they mean. When being told I'm using a NPW angle, I am doing so unwittingly because I don't even know what it is. I'm doing my best to articulate what I understand to be true, and what my opinions are, so I hope I you can tolerate and accommodate my ignorance. Bless you guys.
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
To be perfectly honest with you guys, I really do not know what NPW and RPW are or what they mean. When being told I'm using a NPW angle, I am doing so unwittingly because I don't even know what it is. I'm doing my best to articulate what I understand to be true, and what my opinions are, so I hope I you can tolerate and accommodate my ignorance. Bless you guys.
Colin,

An excellent question, and one that should not be assumed.

RPW = Regulative Principle of Worship

NPW = Normative Principle of Worship

The simplest definitions are that the NPW posits that whatever is not forbidden in worship (e.g. idolatry) is permitted. It is how Anglicans (traditionally) ordered worship, and is the default position of most evangelicals. Is says that God puts broad parameters around worship, and man then determines what is permitted.

The RPW posits that only that which is commanded by God in His Word is a proper element of worship. An element is a main principle of worship. The Westminster Confession (and 1689 Baptist Confession) lays out the Reading of Scripture, preaching, prayer, etc. as the elements of worship. All of these are commanded expressly by God, whereas, for example, dance and drama in worship are not. There are other tangential things in worship that are things indifferent. They are called circumstances: the exact time of worship on the Lord's Day, the type of lighting, whether sound amplification is used, etc.
 

JP Wallace

Puritan Board Sophomore
Colin on your profile you list the Westminster Confession as that which you subscribe to, it sets out clearly the RPW as against the NPW and is merely the application of sola scriptura to worship....

Chapter 1:VI. The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man's salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men.[12] Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word:[13] and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature, and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed.[14]

Chapter 21:I. The light of nature shows that there is a God, who has lordship and sovereignty over all, is good, and does good unto all, and is therefore to be feared, loved, praised, called upon, trusted in, and served, with all the heart, and with all the soul, and with all the might.[1] But the acceptable way of worshipping the true God is instituted by Himself, and so limited by His own revealed will, that He may not be worshipped according to the imaginations and devices of men, or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representation, or any other way not prescribed in the holy Scripture.[2]

You would do well to study these chapters and read a few good commentaries thereon before settling these matters.
 

Moireach

Puritan Board Freshman
David,
You said something like; where it is not commanded, it is prohibited. I understand your point. Thankyou.
Pastor Wallace, you have misunderstood my point it seems. I have not, nor attempt to, build a doctrine around my opinion of using instruments for worship. This is what I meant. The NT is not specific on so I'm not going to say one is right, the other is wrong.
Our brother David made just a point (stated above) which got my attention though, and makes the most sense to me out of any argument I've heard so far.
I haven't completely rejected the A Cappella case. There are still things that seem unclear to me, but it's growing on me However, in the instance of Psalms ONLY; the Apostle mentions, at least twice (in Ephesians and Colossians) to use Psalms, Hymns, and spiritual songs. Not Psalms ONLY. This is where the bible is not "silent".

---------- Post added at 12:22 AM ---------- Previous post was at 12:18 AM ----------

Again, sorry fellas if I'm hard to understand here or am too brief. I'm "typing" (tapping) on a screen here smaller than my hand.
This has been answered by those who are Exclusive Psalmody with a case put across from the non-EP side too so I have nothing to add. So long as you understand that we (who believe in a Capella exclusive Psalmody) believe that what is not commanded in worship is forbidden, and that we believe these verses are a command to sing the Psalms only (and that there is at the very least a strong case for that view and it's not as ridiculous as it might sound at first).

If you are interested in that particular debate, www.exclusivepsalmody.com has lots and lots of online linked materials in favour of the Psalms-only position. It has has a link to a Youtube debate on it too.
 

peter_piper

Puritan Board Freshman
Hey all,

I don't have much to really comment on here as everyone is doing a pretty good job.
I would point out though that I have a real problem with Drama in church, not only on the basis of RPW but because of the second commandment. I was always referenced to this command when I would ask my parents why we don't have skits in our churches vs. churches of my friends, or why we didn't watch movies depicting Jesus. Is that a proper application of that passage? We are not to have any images or depictions of Christ as he is in heaven? Just thought I'd throw that in there in regards to drama and skits...it's a bit off topic sorry.

Also, I would add in regards to preludes...a prelude could be circumstancial as it helps us know when to sing.
Thanks again for replies

Peter
 

Scottish Lass

Puritan Board Doctor
Also, I would add in regards to preludes...a prelude could be circumstancial as it helps us know when to sing.
Thanks again for replies

Peter
Maybe we mean the term "prelude" differently; in many churches it comes before the call to worship, which is not sung.
 

peter_piper

Puritan Board Freshman
:oops: Yeah we meant something different. I was thinking of an intro or 'prelude' to a particular song...that's why I was really confused as to why preludes would be so scandalous. In my head I was thinking, "So how does that work? They just go 1-2-3 and begin singing and music at the same time?" Thanks for that clarification. Yeah, I'm not sure why churches really do that....set the mood perhaps?
 

Scottish Lass

Puritan Board Doctor
:oops: Yeah we meant something different. I was thinking of an intro or 'prelude' to a particular song...that's why I was really confused as to why preludes would be so scandalous. In my head I was thinking, "So how does that work? They just go 1-2-3 and begin singing and music at the same time?" Thanks for that clarification. Yeah, I'm not sure why churches really do that....set the mood perhaps?
Some do it because they've "always done it," I'm sure. In some cases it's nothing more than an opportunity for musicians to showcase their skill; in others, an auditory signal for the congregation to stop chatting and get settled. Regardless, I think it would be difficult to make a case for it biblically.
 
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